After failing to reach an agreement with striking engineers and pilots who have not been paid since March this year, India’s Kingfisher Airlines has effectively grounded itself until at least October 12 by locking out staff. Kingfisher’s management, led by owner Vijay Mallya, is trying to renegotiate some $2.49 billion in debt with creditors while it struggles with serious cash-flow problems, evidenced by $1.9 billion in losses for the first half of this year.
Concerns over the safety oversight of financially struggling Kingfisher Airlines continue, even as the fleet–once 64 aircraft strong–has now shrunk to six A320s and five ATR 72s. The fleet reduction, driven largely by non-payment of leases, comes as a portion of the company’s pilots took strike action on August 18 to protest more than six months of back wages owed them by Kingfisher.
India’s Kingfisher Airlines announced it will launch its first international service on September 3 between Bangalore and London Heathrow Airport. Kingfisher will serve the route with a new Airbus A330-200, the first of 10 on which it holds delivery positions. Indian law requires that an airline operate domestically for five years before authorities consider it for an international air transport license.
India’s Kingfisher Airlines exercised options on another 15 ATR 72-500s yesterday during French President Jacques Chirac’s official visit to the subcontinent. The estimated $270 million deal included options on another 20 airplanes and increased to 35 the number of ATR 72s on which Kingfisher has placed firm orders.